And I'm starting to get faster. I can hang with the Cat 2/3/4 racers on most rides. Some terrain/courses elude me. I'm climbing well, my speed is up (I don't get dropped on 30mph+ flat stretches anymore) - the last hurdle is strength. I'm burying myself with 2-4 min. intervals weekly and doing a sprint workout.
It's working. I'm riding the slower racers/fitness riders off my wheel at times - and I'm not really trying to . I'll just turn around and they're off. Which makes me feel like a jerk, but it's not intentional. When that starts happening you're getting faster.
And it only took 17K miles (8000 last year, 9000 so far this year) after a five year layoff. That was easy.
Besides, riding with the super weenies is fun, but my whole ego/life isn't tied up in pursuing that. Well, OK, a large part of it, but it beats drinking a case of beer every night.